Tsunami debris an environmental threat
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the region around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, my thoughts are very much with the people of Japan who continue to recover and rebuild from this disaster.
A year later, we continue to hear many stories about the human and environmental impact of the aftermath. Most recently we are learning of the resulting 3 to 4 million tons of marine debris that washed into the ocean in Japan, a small percentage of which is floating toward the Pacific coastline of the United States.
The Japanese earthquake and tsunami was a human tragedy and an unpreventable natural disaster. But the trash that finds its way into our ocean every day is preventable. The debris from the Japanese tsunami is a small part of the larger problem of ocean trash. By removing and reducing the amount of trash in our ocean and waterways, we can help ensure that the ocean is more resilient in the face of unavoidable natural disasters. Common items like plastic bags, bottles, and cigarette butts discarded long distances from the coastal areas find their way into waterways and rivers and ultimately end up in the ocean, creating a growing problem for marine habitats, resources, and all of us who depend on them for survival.
My organization EarthEcho International (in conjunction with partners including Toyota USA Foundation, Participant Media, Discovery Education, and Ocean Conservancy) has created tools and resources for young people to do something about this issue of trash. It is one small way that young people can take control of the future, starting in their own backyards, schools, and communities. From students and educators to parents and community leaders, EarthEcho provides resources and tools to help people make a positive difference in their communities and beyond. The good news is it's something we can all start today. Coordinate a waterway or park cleanup in your community, create an awareness campaign at your school about the effects of plastic bottles, and practice safe disposal methods in your home.
As we reflect back at the devastating events of a year ago where so much was beyond control, it's an opportunity to look at what is in our control every day to ensure a brighter future.
Visit WaterPlanetChallenge.org to start your efforts today.